Niks flash pad & the understanding of uni

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March 2nd 2009
Published: March 2nd 2009
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Well, a lot has happened since I last wrote. Which is why I have not had time to write and I have forgotten a lot of it as my brain has to process a lot of new information all of the time. Coming back to uni over 8 years after graduating is frickin’ challenging. Forget that the lectures may as well be talking in another language (don’t worry Dad I am getting the hang of it) you have to learn about the computers, the library, the layout and the Krypton factor challenge that is getting onto the JCU dive register.


As a commercial organisation you are not allowed to dive for the university, even as a volunteer without being on the register. And despite having had a through medical to get into the country I know need another one and to do courses in first aid, oxygen provision and a refresher dive then a theory test. I’ll have left by the time I get all this sorted. Anyway, I am plugging on through and hope to get this sorted in the next fortnight. Not famed for my ability to pass medicals I am a bit nervous about this but I’ll see how it goes.


What about employment and housing I hear you cry? Well, while I was at one of the mammoth sessions at an internet café the week before last I answered a request for room mates that was tacked up on the board. It was an advertisement for a room with a pool and a gym on the Strand in North Ward. For the Bristolians this is the Townsville equivalent to Royal York Crescent in Bristol. Very swish, and overlooking the beach.
Tom, my new housemate and buddy (the weirdo in the pic) had only put it up 3 hours before so I was the first to respond. It is top end of my budget and the others pay more than me to live here but Tom did not mind as he has the master bedroom and Adrian had no choice as we are technically subletting to him. Yes, among other things I have become a landlord.

So, as you can see from the pics my place is amazing. The living area is open plan with a huge flat screen TV and corner sofa big enough for all 3 of us to lie on it. We had a BBQ with a uni friend of mine and are going to have some more now we are all moved in.

There are 4 columns to the complex, 2 overlooking the beach. In the middle of the complex is a pool big enough to swim in and an undercover BBQ area with sinks and tables and a little kiddies splash pool. Only thing missing is a Jacuzzi. What - my Sydney flat had one, although not outside. Overlooking the pool is the gym. Some of the other balconies have those big BBQs on them or a day bed but ours has a modest table and chairs and more often than not some washing but there is plenty of space. In short the place is incredible. Often a bit cold

My room was a kids room but I have now pushed the beds together and put a mattress topper and my duvet covet etc on it and there is still a pile of mess on the floor so it looks like my room. The walls are a bare except for the 3 canvas pictures that came with it. This said ‘Ripp’, ‘Nic’ & ‘Britt’. I took the last two as a good sign and took the last one down.


Tom & I met up for a beer about an hour after we had chatted on the phone and have become friends. Everyone that has met us has assumed we have known each other for years, not for just over a week. We have quite similar personalities of both the good bits and bad but have spent hours and hours together and not killed each other so that’s good - so far. I stayed at his when my week was up at the motel as he had a short term place not far from my motel and our new pad. We rushed around making sure the paperwork was in order for us to move in here last Tuesday as Tom had to be out of his place or pay another week. As he had to go to work I had the luxury of using his rental car for 2 days which was great but made the 45 minute trek into uni that much longer on the bus. The uni is on the edge of the city and I live on the other side but the introduction of the new doctor in our flat means I may be able to cadge a lift every now and again as the hospital is near to the uni. Or get used to being a poverty stricken, bus taking student. Hmmm.

So, one housemate is my public school sounding, New Zealand passport carrying dentist called Tom. The other, who moved in on Saturday is the Aussie junior doctor called Adrian. He is 28, comes from Brisbane and fits in really well thus far. He also has a little ‘tinny’ boat that he is taking us out in this weekend to Magnetic (or ‘Maggie’ to the locals.

I apologise if this has got boring or full of grammatical errors. I started writing it before a few glasses of wine whilst perched on a concrete bench in one of the computer rooms at uni then had a few glasses if wine when chatting to Nattie after our phone line got installed.

Phoning me (please do)

IMPORTANT NUMBER FOR ANYONE THAT WANTS TO PHONE: Dial 0844 200 9595 (access number). Then dial 0061 747727910. This allows you to call my home line for 0.5p a minute any time you like. Genius. It might ask you to select a language between dialing the access number and dialing my phone number but is v.simple until we get the web installed this week. You can then use Skype if you want or just continue to use this number. For the uninitiated the 00 is to dial internationally from the UK, 61 is the code for Australia. The rest is my area code and home number (of you are calling from Oz add another zero before the first 7). I look forward to hearing from you. I am 10 hours ahead. I have a similar number to dial home but, as Nan will testify the connection was shocking so I will look for another access number before I try and phone anyone. Except you Pa, I need you to pay my fees for this semester  .

Tom - Please sort out installing Skype for Dad, Mum, Nat, Laus inc. webcams and headsets for everyone so we can see each other online. I’ll give you a tour of my flat.

Aussie life in general

So, how do I fill my days. Well, I am at uni for 11 hours a week but this is spread across all 5 days. For 3 days it takes me longer to get into uni then it does to take lectures but, hey thats the uni way. I have applied for a couple of jobs and am hoping they kick in within the next month so I can stop fantasising about eating my own hand.

Trying to do the most basic things is a challenge sometimes. Bread cost £1.50 a loaf for the cheap stuff and it took visits to 3 people and a week to be able to print anything at uni. Not a problem until you consider we are supposed to print our lecture notes off before we go. Also have to wear proper shoes and a lab coat on a Mon & Fri to do labs but no one tells you this until you get there. Like the Skins episode in the last blog there have been moments of reminiscing, like the biological oceanography lecture when a picture of the Marine Biological Association lab on the seafront in Plymouth suddenly popped up in a lecture. I just think I am getting the hang of things when someone looks at me like I am a moron, like the skipper on the research vessel when I was trying to understand GPS readings in the southern hemisphere. A mile a minute - who knew?!

There have also been some classic archetypal Aussie moments. ‘No shoes, no service signs at the local offy (or bottlo). Sitting under the trees at uni with my laptop whilst ants and god knows what else hurtles itself from the trees as I wander what is poisonous and whats not. The dried out corpses of the ubiquitous cane toads, or worse, the live ones on the road. They are a pest out here and have toxins in their skin. My friend used to play golf with them as balls when she was a kid growing up in Queensland..

The bus drivers are pretty friendly and wear the cheeriest shirts, a tropical background if sky and sea. It reminds me of the bus drivers in the Cooks islands. There are some wierdos on there though, the other day I got on a bus to hear a woman give a rundown to a complete stranger about the history of the classic ‘80s toy ‘Transformers’. I ended up putting my ipod on (thanks Laus) and betting the poor man who had to listen to the chat wished he was up with modern technology.

Sorry for the epic entry, will do my best to write more often.

Love to all,

Nik xx


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